Volume 18, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1387-6740
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9935
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Life stories such as memoirs reflect the interplay of autobiographical reasoning, and collective remembrance at a time and in a place where memoirs are written. Using this perspective for understanding life-writing, I discuss memoirs written by two women who were formerly internees in the Nazi extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Olga Lengyel (1909–2001) lost her entire family in the camp and wrote her memoir in Paris just after the war. Her account describes the atrocities that she observed with few reflections on her own experiences. Mira Ryczke Kimmelman, (1923–) wrote her memoir more than half a century later as an emigre to the United States after the war where she and her husband raised their children and where she is presently an active participant in the survivor community. Her memoir is written as what Tomkins and McAdams have portrayed as a characteristic American redemptive account of successfully overcoming adversity. Following a happy childhood and suffering through the Shoah, Mira Kimmelman is a generative mentor who lectures on her experiences and leads tours for young people back to her homeland. She is concerned that the next generation be spared the suffering of the Shoah.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Auschwitz; holocaust; memoir; popular memory; survivors
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